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The Great She Elephant

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Ian Dunn
1343283.  Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:09 am Reply with quote

In the QI XL version of the "Queens" episode, you said that the Queen Mother of King Mswati III of Swaziland is known as the Great She Elephant.

While it is true that she is referred to as this, what is wrong is that she is Queen Mother in Swaziland. The country has since changed its name. She is now Queen Mother of Eswatini.

1343304.  Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:31 am Reply with quote

If you really wanted to start an argument, you could start a debate on whether the country's name should be spelled Eswatini or eSwatini. The government of that country mostly uses Eswatini in English and eSwatini in siSwati. On the other hand, English-language newspapers in South Africa tend to favour eSwatini. So does Richard E Grant, who is probably the country's best known citizen after eNdlovukati.

They've had that debate several times on Wikipedia, and - as is sadly too common there - decided that the form used by the US government (Eswatini) is of course correct and anyone who writes it the other way is a fool.

But we can leave that to one side and remember that QI is light entertainment, not the General Assembly of the United Nations. Is the new (or new in English, at any rate) name yet sufficiently well established that people will know which country is meant if the show uses it?

Probably not. You'll note that sports media still tend to use Ivory Coast rather that Côte d'Ivoire if that country appears in the World Cup. It's now 34 years since that country said unto the world "Please leave our name in French in all circumstances", but it is clear that the French form is not yet sufficiently well understood for general use.

So the two years since King Mswati said unto the world "Don't call us Swaziland, that's not our name" isn't nearly enough.

Personally I'd prefer it if all countries were always referred to by local names in all circumstances, and I could go into class and say that two of my grandparents were from Polska. But I can't, and that's not going to change. You may note that at least one member of these forums still uses Persia, and is not willing to accept the request please to use Iran which that land made as long ago as 1935!

Ian Dunn
1343305.  Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:34 am Reply with quote

I should probably just go away.


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